Unrelated to all that, 8/30 edition

Humanity’s Longest Lasting Legacy May Be The Miles Of Holes We’ve Dug

The distance to the center of the Earth is roughly 3,960 miles (6,373 kilometers). Animal life stops 1.2 miles (2 km) below the surface — the depth where miners discovered deep-dwelling worms in South African gold mines. All known microbial life stops at a depth of around 1.7 miles (2.7 km). But humans have left a permanent mark well beyond those depths, geologists say.

Humans’ first underground foray came during the Bronze Age, when people began digging shallow mines in search of flint and metals. The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s sent humans even deeper below the surface. Still, many of the disturbances, like water wells, sewage systems and subway lines, were relatively shallow and extended less than 330 feet (100 m) below the surface. Only after 1950, a period referred to as the “Great Acceleration” by some geologists, did humans really plunge below 330 feet, Zalasiewicz and his colleagues explained.

A Unified Theory

For the last half-century we’ve had a popular notion that our intellectual culture is sundered in two — the literary and the scientific. “The two cultures” is the bumper-sticker phrase for this view. It dates back to a hugely influential 1959 lecture, also published in book form that year, by C. P. Snow — “a moderately able research chemist who had become a successful novelist,” in the historian Lisa Jardine’s not very adulatory description. According to Snow, on one side were the humanists, on the other the scientists, and between them lay a shameful “gulf of mutual incomprehension.”

In the 21st century, the two cultures are still with us, but the fault lines have shifted. Plenty of people can talk about thermodynamics and Shakespeare with equal facility; for that matter, no one has ever explained the second law better than Tom Stoppard in “Arcadia” (“You cannot stir things apart”). You’re probably comfortable with scientific expressions like “litmus test.” The question now is, can you explain a hash table? A linked list? A bubble sort? Maybe you can write — but can you code?


Initiate peer review

initiate peer review

(click for full thing, I don’t want to steal a full-page comic…)

The Feynman Lectures

Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website are pleased to present this online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Now, anyone with internet access and a web browser can enjoy reading a high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman’s legendary lectures. However, we want to be clear that this edition is only free to read online, and this posting does not transfer any right to download all or any portion of The Feynman Lectures on Physics for any purpose. This edition has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape; text, figures and equations can all be zoomed without degradation.

Study: Moths Can Remember Caterpillar Days

(yes, this study is 6 years old. It’s still sweet.)

Professor MARTHA WEISS (Biologist): I mean, that’s what I learned, is that the caterpillar turned to minestrone and that those ingredients that made up the caterpillar were completely reorganized into a butterfly that threw away the leftovers that it didn’t need from the soup and was off.

Languages used on the Internet

Is Deep Learning the final frontier of signal processing?

I have attempted to summarize some of what was said (please let me know if I stated something inaccurate). I have also added my understanding of some of these issues at the bottom of this summary.

Raphy Coifman talked about how randomization has been successful in Compressive Sensing and how we eventually devised ways to deconstruct it. We should be doing the same for deep learning.

Stephane Mallat stated that there was something deep about memory (about its growth). A long time ago, much of the emphasis was about logic not about memory. Systems with large memory changes that paradigm, there is something deep conceptually underneath…

And some follow-up comments

Who woke up from the Sonoma Quake?


Peer review, the experiment

We evaluate policies to increase prosocial behavior using a field experiment with 1,500 referees at the Journal of Public Economics. We randomly assign referees to four groups: a control group with a six-week deadline to submit a referee report; a group with a four-week deadline; a cash incentive group rewarded with $100 for meeting the four-week deadline; and a social incentive group in which referees were told that their turnaround times would be publicly posted.

We obtain four sets of results.

“O, Excellent Air Bag”: Humphry Davy and Nitrous Oxide

After an eternity he was brought back to earth by the sensation of Dr. Kinglake removing the breathing-tube from his mouth; the outside world seeped back into his ‘semi-delirious trance’ and, as the energy returned to his limbs, he began to pace around the room. Yet a part of him was still present in the dimension of mind that had swallowed him whole, and he struggled for the words to capture it. He ‘stalked majestically’ towards Kinglake ‘with the most intense and prophetic manner’, and attempted to shape the insight that had possessed him. ‘Nothing exists but thoughts!’, he blurted. ‘The world is composed of impressions, ideas, pleasures and pains!’

What’s the Difference Between Jam, Jelly, Compote, and Conserve?

Smoking, salting, drying and fermenting all came along before canning technology and the use of sugar as a preservative. Although the Greeks and Romans stored fruits in honey, sugar was an expensive luxury. Jams and jellies didn’t become common until the 19th century when sugar became cheap enough to use in large quantities.

Today, preserves are about more than just making it through the winter. Creating unusual flavor combinations is also part of the fun. Add a kick of heat, a touch of tartness, something boozy, herbal, or spiced, and preserves become a little more exciting. Store shelves these days offer a daunting array of small-batch products. But as you stare at the aisles of jellies, jams, conserves, and compotes, do you know what defines one type of preserves from another? It all comes down to the kind of fruit that’s used, the way the product is prepared, and the proportions of different ingredients.

Serial behaviour: What can fruit flies teach us about karate?

Understanding the logic behind how a fruit fly’s brain tells it to groom its body parts in a stereotyped order might help us understand other behaviours that also involve a series of actions.

And the pictures from the sister-Tumblr:


One thought on “Unrelated to all that, 8/30 edition

  1. Pingback: “Moths Can Remember Caterpillar Days” | peakmemory

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